Ambling down to West Quay on a late spring evening this April, some of you may wonder why a projection of the recently deceased Elizabeth Taylor has replaced the logo on the Skandia building across the road from the Guildhall. The 1965 portrait of the star is being projected from April 4th to April 25th and again from May 30th to June 5th from 7pm until 12am both in commemoration of her recent untimely death and in celebration of almost 200 works of Andy Warhol’s on display between the Southampton City Art Gallery and the John Hansard Gallery from March 27th until June 26th.
The Southampton City Art Gallery is displaying over 100 ‘Warhols,’ from prints to posters and paintings covering an array of subject-matter, compiling works produced in The Factory – (his New York studio,) from 1962 up until his death in 1987. The exhibit covers an array of themes from Warhol’s fascination with celebrity and repetition, through the iconic portraits the artist is best known for including Marilyn Monroe (1983) and Muhammed Ali (1978) to his interest in consumerism and branding in his depictions of Brillo, Campbell’s Soup and Absolut Vodka. The most notable recurring theme of the exhibit is death though, from the Taylor’s projection to a group of self-portraits in the City Art Gallery including ‘Self Portrait Strangulation’ (1978) and ‘Gun’ (1981), making clear reference to Warhol’s fascination with death after being shot and injured in 1968 by one of his entourage.
Over at the John Hansard Gallery visitors are treated to rarely seen stitched photographs and self-portraits from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, along with iconic film works from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. As the source material for many of the famous paintings and prints on display at the City Art Gallery, the photographs are a must for any Warhol fanatics or indeed anyone interested in just learning more about such a prolific artist. As a highly experimental filmmaker, capturing moments on film was at the heart of Warhol’s approach to art, though some of his shorts are not for the conceptually feint hearted. That said, the ‘Screen Tests’- filmed portraits of Warhol’s friends and colleagues, have a fantastic visual impact as soon as you enter the gallery. Suffice to say, the films and photographs on display are still highly influential on film and television today. Indeed, the ‘Factory Diaries’- filmed between 1970 and1982, have been described as a precursor to reality television and give great insight into Warhol’s world.
Admission is free, so take a break from coursework/revision/sunbathing (if you’re sensible,) crack out some Velvet Underground, whack on your darkest glasses and go indulge your avant-garde side!